6. Conscious Consumerism
Posted by Environmentalism 101| 18 Aug 2015 |
All systems that require civilisation as a foundation are inherently destructive and unsustaining – including consumerism. At a loss for any solutions to our destructive impact, many avenues are proposed, but of all the most blindly believed notions to be adopted is that of conscious consumerism.
Conscious consumerism is a growing trend. It’s the proposed avenue for any individual looking to improve their impact on the planet. It joins the purchasing power of the consumer with responsible corporations, in order to form a relationship of promoting responsible consumption and product procurement. Its seems like a solution, using currency power to employ better sourcing and processing of products, thus combating the destructive efforts employed by other product procurement. Unfortunately, the entire idea of conscious consumerism is a farce. It doesn’t matter what you consume, if there is no exchange between consuming human and other species, the procurement methods are negligible. Conscious consumerism has become a process of calming our conscience, allowing us to feel that we are ‘making a difference’, when in reality conscious consumers are doing nothing but promoting and feeding another consumer cycle, refreshing corporate identity.
Conscious consumerism has been the breeding ground for the ‘eco-vegan-minimalist-cradle-to-cradle-recycling-warriors’, a growing number of individuals taking their consumer habits and lifestyles to new ‘reduced, reused and recycled’ heights. These conscious consumer tactics employ nothing but a ‘smoke and mirrors’ affect to the would-be conscious individual, professing that the outlet for social or environmental solutions and responsibility is through shopping! It’s a ridiculous and pathetic notion put forward, but unfortunately most civilized individuals buy into it both literally and figuratively.
Veganism employs no solutions in alleviating animal suffering or reducing environmental impact. Of the 65 billion land animals slaughtered per year, 99.99% are already set aside for human consumption, the remaining 0,01% exists as pets and companions to humans. Fishing methods are not selective and poorly monitored. Regardless of the current consumption rates, fish are removed from the ocean in mass and sent to refrigeration, awaiting to fulfill the inevitable growing human appetite. As emerging and growing economies, such as India and China, buy into Westernisation, the demand for all animal products continues to increase. The current demand already exceeds the supply and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Going vegan saves no animals and doesn’t affect demand in a globally traded economy with entire civilisation yet to become Western-influenced consumers. The only way a vegan will save an animal is if they go to a farm or slaughterhouse, buy or steal the animal and provide it a home and existence as one would do with a pet. Although animal agriculture will prevail due to the overwhelming demand, the chickens, pigs, goats and cows that are directly saved from slaughter and the cruel industry practices is a worthwhile and much needed task.
All forms of agriculture are inherently destructive. The interspecies exchange of input and output grossly favours a few targeted species and is managed by destructive human methods. Specific species are cultivated and domesticated for human desire, then are dispersed amoung purchasing individuals within a one-way consumption based civilisation, with no feedback or exchange between cultivated species and the purchasing consumer. Besides our complete disconnection form all natural ecosystems, we are just as disconnected from all food chains, oblivious to the processes required to produce our food. Animal husbandry, monoculture, organic farming, biodynamic farming, aquaculture and permaculture are all different agricultural systems that manipulate other species and resources to fulfill the desires of human consumption, eliminating the crucial interspecies exchanges required to maintain natural ecosystems. Regardless of dietary preferences, if the food is supplied from a supermarket, local farmer, deli or restaurant, it is cultivated through varying process that are only lesser evil versions of an inherently destructive and anthropocentric system – agriculture.
The only way a vegan diet will benefit the environment is if the consumer acquires the food directly from its source within an environment that maintains natural ecosystems and biodiversity, then returning what is digested or not used back into the ecosystem from where the food was taken, essentially closing the loop of interspecies exchange. We would have to mimic other species in nature and this could only be achieved if our surroundings were indigenous biodiversity, not tarred streets and concrete walls.
Whilst veganism is a highly commendable lifestyle choice, that requires strict commitments especially in an animal-based conditioned society, veganism should not be seen as an option that saves animals or reduces ones impact on the environment but rather viewed as a moral duty that promotes equality and interspecies selflessness. Just as an individual should not employ standards of child-slavery, racism, sexism or discrimination towards any other humans, regardless of laws or societal perceptions, so to should no human employ standards that condone the exploitation, manipulation, cruelty, inequality and dominance over any other species.
Cradle-to-cradle recycling is modeled on a closed loop system where items are continually reused with little to no energy expenditure in processing from one form to another. It is a system based on mimicking the existing interspecies exchange within all natural ecosystems. It is the perceived epitome of recycling and effective human consumption, the model standard for all recycling practices. Within all natural ecosystems there is no such thing as waste – everything provides sustenance to something else. Civilisation does not produce its own materials, it merely manipulates what it disproportionally extracts from the exploitation of other species and resources, and civilisation expels waste, waste that is of no benefit to any other species and by that notion alone, any system that produces waste is inherently unsustaining, regardless of the models proposed for recycling or managing waste. No strategy for recycling will make any difference as long as there is waste produced that is of no benefit to other species.
‘Green washing’ of products is rife within the consumer culture and readily marketed by businesses of all types. There is no such thing as a ‘green product’ supplied by any business or corporation, any form of conscious consumerism that relies on a third party to procure, produce, extract, deliver, prepare or dispose of any product is just a diluted version of unsustainable consumer habits. The ‘greenest’ product any consumer can purchase is no product at all. Instead, every consumer should move towards being fully self-sufficient, off-grid, have little to no material products and living within a nature-filled environment, relying directly on natural ecosystems to fulfill their needs of eating and drinking.
Any action taken within a civilisation is inherently destructive, regardless of the lifestyle habits and consumer choices of its urbanized inhabitants. Civilisation has to collapse for any solutions to be put into effect, environmental destruction, species exploitation and extinction will continue regardless of conscious or unconscious consumer choices. We are conditioned to be solution-orientated and focused, believing that a solution requires improving, progressing, advancing, refining or creating a new system, when, in reality the solution is to stop and to cease relying on any anthropocentric or civilisation-based systems.